Archives for posts with tag: below the asian standards

I know I’m not the only high school senior feeling the pressure right now.  Over the past few months, I have seen several of my classmates break down in tears over the stress of having ridiculous numbers of college applications to complete on top of the responsibilities that come with school.  I’ve accidentally walked in on girls crying to their teachers, begging for extensions on assignments.  It’s not pretty.

It’s hard to stay sane during this process, especially when all of my classmates are constantly telling me about how stressed they are and how much work they have.  A part of me wants to comfort my friends and wrap them up in cuddles and shield them from the horrors of the college application process.  The other part of me wants them to calm down and keep their feelings to themselves.  I think we all feel a smidgeon of resentment towards each other when it comes to college apps.

And I realize now how scary it is that we feel this way: these are the friends we’ve known and loved for years, and yet the pressure to attend good colleges and get good jobs is so crushing that it turns us against each other.  Even though we’re not supposed to think of the process as a gigantic competition, we can’t help but feel like our closest friends are also our greatest enemies.  Ideally, it’d be nice to get into the same schools, but what if we don’t?  What if my friends are accepted to a school I want to attend and I get rejected?

Welcome to the mind of the high school senior.

The application deadline for merit scholarship consideration at 3 of the schools on my list was December 1st—the last day of my Thanksgiving break.  My parents took me and my sister up to the mountains to stay in a cozy lodge for the break, and stay in the cozy lodge I did.  I stepped out of the lodge only for food (so much comfort food—I’m talking pounds here—was consumed) and water; the rest of my time was spent working on my college essays.  Thankfully, I managed to get all of those applications in on time without suffering too much emotional trauma.

Still, I’ve definitely had my fair share of emotional meltdowns within the past few weeks.  My college list is way too long right now.  A lot of that has to do with the fact that I put a bunch of schools on my list that I have no intentions of attending even if I do get in.  That’s what our college counselors tell us to put on our lists: a number of safety schools.

That said, our college counselors tell us to include match schools and reach schools on our lists as well, and while I like most of the schools that fall into these categories, I’m not sure how practical it is for me to apply to all of them (colleges charge us a pretty penny for giving us the pleasure of filling out and submitting applications.  Isn’t that lovely?).  I know the whole point of applying to reach schools is to get an idea of what kinds of schools I can get into.  Maybe some top institution will, by some off chance, make a miraculous mistake and accept me; who knows?  The truth of the matter is, there are some schools to which I am applying that are ridiculous reach schools.  They are way over my head.  I’m 5’2″; say a regular reach school is 6’0″.  These schools are 9’0″.  That far over my head.  The sad part is that I want to attend them—I wouldn’t be applying if I didn’t—but as I write the supplemental essays required for these schools, my mind does a time skip and I can see myself coming home one afternoon in April to multiple letters of rejection.

Throwback to some of my earlier days as a blogger, back when I was still on Xanga: I was not the best student.  My parents had high hopes for me.  Society had high expectations of me.  I had high expectations of my self—high and irrational.  When I started my blog in 8th grade, I thought that my grades would define who I was.  I wanted to be the superstar student so many of my Asian-American classmates were, but my lack of organization skills and emotional turmoil prevented that from happening.  I genuinely believed that my failure to conform to the stereotype of Asians as being high-achieving students, math geniuses, and piano prodigies was an indication that I would be a failure later on in life.  Fortunately, I had a enough of a sense of humor (self-deprecating as it may have been) to laugh about it: thus, Below the Asian Standards was born.

Over the years, through writing my blog and just stumbling through high school, I’ve learned that I don’t need to be the embodiment of a stereotype in order to be comfortable with myself.  But trust me, now that I’m filling out college apps, I sure do wish I had that “Asian”-level GPA.

Image

I was tempted to try this.  Image from Sparknotes.

To address the question I posed at the beginning of this post: what if my friends get into schools that reject me?  I would be happy for my friends, of course.  We’re all going to end up going somewhere or doing something.  The vagueness isn’t exactly reassuring, but I think it’s important for us to remember how we’re all going to find our way eventually.  This too shall pass.

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Here’s a lesser-known Asian parenting stereotype: Asian mothers will call their daughters “chubby” or “fat” and tell them to lose weight.

The funny part is that it’s kind of true, and I’ve experienced it first-hand!  My little sister has always been pretty active because she played basketball up until very recently, so she’s thin as a stick.  I, on the other hand, could benefit from a little exercise.  …Unfortunately for my health, I enjoy food and I like my couch.  And I don’t really like exercise.

Now that my own mother has started exercising regularly, she’s been seriously pressuring me to eat better and get fit.  Now, I’ll admit it’s a little bit tempting to listen to her just to get her to stop insinuating that I’m unhealthy—now I feel like an underachieving blob and below MORE Asian standards—but I simply cannot bring myself to get my lazy butt off the couch and go for a jog around the block.  I’d be out of breath in seconds.

I am in no way advocating an unhealthy lifestyle…that’s just something I’ve become very used to.  I plan to be a little healthier in the future and watch what I eat. …Right after I have this pizza.

Wooo!

In my last post, I mentioned that I’m currently taking a writing class.  To be more specific, this writing class is sponsored by CalArts as part of the Community Arts Partnership Summer Arts program (CAPSA), which is an intensive arts program for high school students like myself.  It’s a three-week program that goes from 10 to 5, four days a week.  Aside from creative writing, the program offers workshops in animation, dance, music, photography, theater, and visual arts.  Because it’s tuition-free, the program is selective and applicants have to submit samples of their work in the discipline they’re applying to.

Honestly, I’ve never really looked forward to attending any of my past summer classes—sometimes, I even dreaded going.  But CAPSA has been different: as intimidating as it may seem to write for 6 hours a day, it’s actually a lot of fun to get my imagination running.  I absolutely love my classmates and my teachers.  Perhaps there’s just something about being writers that makes us such a close-knit group.

Maybe the whole idea of summer “school” isn’t appealing, but to give you an idea of what we do in class: today, we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in downtown Los Angeles to eavesdrop on people’s conversations.  The reason?  Our assignment was to write a poem based entirely on observations and snippets of conversations we overheard.  We all had a great time gathering information and writing the poems.

After class today, a bunch of my classmates and I went out for a lovely ramen dinner in Little Tokyo.  Naturally, as I was one of the only two Asians in the group, they relied on me to give them food recommendations and to show them around Little Tokyo (which I don’t even know that well, but it was pretty fun pretending I did.  At least I can pretend to meet some Asian standards, right?).  I brought my ukulele and one of my classmates brought his guitar, so we all kind of sang and had fun and probably annoyed the heck out of the people around us.  It’s funny to think that I didn’t even know these people before last week; I already know i’m going to miss them so much after the class ends.  

Here’s a photo of the restaurant we ate at.  I nabbed it from the internet because I forgot to take a picture 😦

If anyone has any questions about the program, feel free to ask!

Every weekday at 7a.m., I – very grouchily – get dressed and munch on cereal, when I’d really rather be sleeping.  Why, you might ask?  I have to go to school!  At noon, rather than enjoy a delicious lunch with my friends, I hole up in the library, studying…for school.  When I get back home, I spend hours working on my homework that’s due the next day.  Sometimes, I stay awake until the early hours of the morning, frantically trying to study for that darned test that I forgot about or finish that essay.  

Even when I’m not at school, I’m surrounded by it: with all of my tests, assignments, and projects, I’m constantly swimming in a pool of school.  Almost constantly.  But when I’m not physically working on something school-related, I’m definitely thinking about something school-related.  This is junior year!  I have no time to be thinking about a social life!

…Well, I guess that isn’t entirely true.  I do have a lot of work, but it’s really important to find a balance between spending time with friends and doing work.  I think I would go completely insane if all I did was work, work, work.  But with my junior year coming to a close, I’m actually really worried about college.  My grades aren’t anything to be proud of, I don’t play a sport, and I’m really not involved in any clubs……

At this point, I think my parents have almost given up on me.  When your Asian mother starts telling you, “You can always go to community college!” – there’s something seriously wrong.   She might be okay with that, but I’m not.  I’m not!  Never!

And that’s the most pathetic part: I’ve set some really high standards for myself, and now that I’m struggling to meet them, I get very easily discouraged.  I guess “below the Asian standards” goes without saying at this point (I’ve been below the Asian standards for as long as I can remember now); the real issue now is that I’m below my own standards.  I have to work super hard!

On the up side of things, spring break is approaching, which means I’ll have plenty of time to……study.  

Joy…

#BTAS

I would like to announce that I am alive and do not intend to abandon my blog. I feel terrible about not having posted in such a long time.  It’s been over two months since I last updated, and that’s absolutely unacceptable on my part.  

Now that I’m back from my 2 months off the face of the earth, I have a nice collection of things to tell you all about!  Between my commitments to my schoolwork, friends, family, and extracurricular activities, I’ve been pretty busy lately.  School and homework take up the majority of my time; while I procrastinate here and there, I don’t procrastinate nearly as much as I have in the past, so I can definitely say that junior year is a lot more demanding than sophomore year.  

I’ve also joined the robotics team at my school.  To be entirely honest, I had no interest in robotics at all, but I decided to check it out when my friends asked me to.  I ended up joining the team mainly because the majority of my close friends are on it, but as it turns out, robotics is actually really cool.  I’m very inexperienced and don’t understand the programming part of it, but now having gone to a robotics competition, I’m really beginning to like being a part of this nerd team.  It’s like the science fair all over again! I’ll write a separate post alllll about robotics.  Just you wait. 

Anyways, I know it’s been a while and this is really too short a post to compensate for lost time, but I’ll be better about posting consistently.  I promise.

~BTAS

 

Part of what makes me so “whitewashed” is that I don’t speak Chinese. I had a private tutor to teach me Chinese for a few years when I was younger because I was too self-conscious to learn in a classroom setting. I dropped the language altogether when I entered middle school.

Boy, do I regret it.

It kind of sucks for me to not be able to communicate with my grandparents. Actually, I guess it’s not that I can’t communicate with them — they do speak decent English — but it goes without saying that their first language is Chinese, and it’s hard to have really comprehensive conversations with people when they don’t speak your language fluently and you sure as hell don’t speak theirs fluently. It’s a language barrier, and it complicates things.

Anyways, for 4 years I went without formally learning Chinese at all. At the beginning of these 4 years, I was mighty happy about that; Chinese lessons sucked because I had to do homework. Ew. So I went along, happily speaking my English and not letting the fact that I couldn’t speak Chinese bother me. I took a real pride in being able to speak and understand English well, and I thought that was enough.

But there came a time — about a year and a half ago or so — when I realized that the fact that I couldn’t speak a second language was lame. I learned Japanese at school for two years because my school didn’t offer Chinese, but I never got fluent. Heck, I’ll be lucky if I can remember how to say “hello”. And then I had all of my Chinese-American friends since elementary school speaking Chinese to each other. You know what was mortifying? When they’d try to include me in their Chinese conversations and I would just stand there and pray to God that they wouldn’t find out that I hadn’t the slightest clue what they were talking about.

So here I was, a few years of Chinese and a couple of years of Japanese under my belt, feeling sucky that despite having studied 2 foreign languages, the only language I was comfortable with was English.

I only started learning Chinese again over this past summer. I took a course designed for “heritage speakers” (which I wasn’t and am not, but my mom insisted I take the class anyways), and I did my best to keep up with all of the real heritage speakers. Of course, there were a couple of kids there who knew even less than I did — wow — but it was still pretty awkward to be hearing the teacher talking and not understanding. It was a lot of trial and error. But I actually got a lot out of it.

I’m taking Chinese at my school right now. Am I fluent? Nah. Can native speakers even understand me? Probs not. But it’s a step. I’m going to be fluent one day. I promise.

LURV,
BTAS.

P.S: Yes, the “listening” thing is a joke. Kind of. I really am listening to it now.

that I’m just BETTER than everyone else, and I can do ANYTHING. Cuz I’m a genius.

I’m kidding. Genius? Haaaa. There really aren’t many geniuses in the world. I’m not kidding. I’m sure we all have that one kid in our math class who just nails every problem and understands every concept and aces every test…and hey, maybe some of them really are geniuses. I don’t know. But I doubt it–if they were geniuses, they would not be in the same class you’re in. Unless you’re a genius.

Take my friend George, for example. He’s cool. He’s ridiculously smart. I mean, I thought I was smart–I’m a freshman in Honors Trigonometry, which is 2 levels above grade level–but this guy switches into my trig class and starts totally humiliating the rest of us. Seriously. He’s wiping the blackboard with our faces, the way the teacher worships him. It’s the same way in our chemistry class (again, I’m ahead: chemistry is normally only offered to 10th grade students): he’s got the teacher wrapped around his finger. Do I admire him? Sure. Am I jealous of him? Oh yes.

So a few months ago, Georgeh took this competitive math assessment available only to teacher-recommended students called the AMC 10. Our math teacher signed him up for it (no surprise), and George went in to the test quite confidently (again, no surprise). For months before the test, George made a big deal of studying for it by showing off his EXTREME MATH SKILLS to the rest of the class. To be honest, I don’t think the rest of the class could have given less of a crap about George’s EXTREME MATH SKILLS, but he proceeded in making a show of his giant math textbooks nonetheless.

About a month ago in our math class, George sat down in the seat in front of me (his usual seat), clearly bothered by something but waiting for me to ask him about it. Being the good friend I am, I asked, “What’s up?” George replied, “So, I got the score back for the AMC 10.”

With as little interest in this as I had for his EXTREME MATH SKILLS, I reluctantly said, “Oh, really? Cool. What’d you get?”

To which George responded, “A ninety-eight.” This did not surprise me. I was actually kind of pissed that he had the nerve to sit down in front of me and brag.

Irritably, I said, “Cool. That’s awesome.” Then, sarcastically: “I KNEW you were a genius.”

“I got a ninety-eight out of a hundred and fifty,” George corrected me. Then he smiled. I smiled back. In my eyes, George became…like, HUMAN. He’s not the creepy computer I had previously thought of him as. Now he’s a friend, our friendship based on the fact that neither of us are, in fact, geniuses.

(Actually, my IQ is CLOSE to genius level. But it isn’t; I blame ADHD (always always always blame ADHD).)

Honestly guys, there’s always gonna be someone out there better than you are at something. And then there’s going to be someone better than that person. So don’t get so caught up in this little “I HAVE TO BE BETTER THAN MY FRIENDS IN MATH” thing, because even if you ARE better than your friends are in math…you’re nothing. I’m kidding. (just kidding, I’m not kidding. no offense.)

Cheeers! (:
ABC

So most of you out there know what Asians are like, regardless of whether or not you are one yourself. Asian parents push their kids hard to do well in school, Asian teachers are strict, and Asian students are–in case you haven’t noticed–probably some of the best students. Generally, the Asian culture is very academics-oriented, and once an Asian is set on something, they’ll take it very seriously. Most likely. If you’re a stereotypical Asian.

I don’t know if being a stereotypical Asian is a good thing, but one thing’s for sure: I’m definitely not one of them. I’m not super-neat. God knows I’m not a straight-A student. I believe that I am a pathological liar (to which my parents will happily agree).

But then there are good things to being a non-mainstream Asian (oh mah gaud, I know. AMAZING). For instance, I realize that I’m more extroverted than most Asians are (and this I would know, considering my school is like, 75% Korean. I swear xDD), meaning I have pretty good communication skills and I’m charismatic, I think. I play basketball. I love to draw. I have awesome, crazy friends who aren’t Asian (a shock to even myself, considering most of my friends in the past have been Asian). These things I love about myself. These things I’ll never change.

That about wraps up my mini-rant thing.  Not much more to say about myself here, but you can be sure that you’ll be hearing from me as soon as I have enough energy to think (three basketball games and a science fair, all in one weekend).  Read read read! And drop comments or questions if you have any! ^^

Oh, and just a quickie: I am officially changing my name to Hedgehog.  Well, not officially.  Just call me that from now on, ok? ^^

Thanks guys!
Hedgehog